by Whispering Pine

Just back from my ‘Wudang Pilgrimage’ to various China Taoist Temples in different locations. This was my third journey led by Zhou Sifu. You can check Sifu out on the Daoist Gate website

The trip was made possible with the help of my wife and senior students, who took care of running the dojo, and the cooperation and understanding of all the students. It gives me peace of mind to know things are in good hands.

Yu Mu Shan temple

On this trip, as with the previous two, we visited temples on famous Taoist mountains. On Yu Mu Shan we stayed in the temple and joined in the daily vegetarian meals. The temple cook was excellent and we polished off all the various dishes. We challenged each other to finish what was on the table, even when our bellies felt full. It is a good practice not to let food go to waste.

For me the biggest challenge was the weather. According to the locals, it was a record-breaking heat and the worst drought seen since a long, long time. I am not used to daily temperatures of thirty-six to thirty-eight Celsius. My face would be dripping with sweat even when I was sitting quiet.  Adapting to circumstances, I would drink lots of liquid, stay calm and have many cool showers a day. The temple people did not seem to complain about it; rather, it is just another fact of life, living with what nature dictates. The Taoist way. 

Luckily for me, I was able to sleep well, even drenched in sweat. We had a fan running continuously in our room, moving warm air.

Warming up for practice

At five AM, I was already on the practice ground, ‘warming up’ for the morning TaiChi . Being on the mountain, surrounded by forest, we were treated to a symphony of singing insects and, at about five-thirty, that would switch over to the songs of distant roosters and morning birds. It was such a pleasant atmosphere.  It is etched into my memory. At seven, we would have breakfast, and then another hour of training. Usually the locals who train at the temple also arrived for their practice with Huan Sifu, the head of the temple. They were very friendly people, showing great interest and seriousness in their study. At times, there were also other groups who came up to the temple ground to train, as it was even hotter down in the valley.

We were treated to the local abundance of red and yellow watermelon and grapes. It was delicious and so enjoyed.

After dinner, around seven, we would have our evening practice. We could continue with the TaiChi or join in the kung fu training with the temple group. In the kung fu group, we tried many different ways of kicking, some representing much difficulty for older and stiffer pilgrims.

At sundown, we would head back to our shared room, a cool refreshing shower, and rest for the night, accompanied by the singing of the night insects.

So much more to share and tell. Much to digest and more time for reflection..